Practically a prequel to All The President’s Men, The Post follows the publisher (Meryl Streep) and editor (Tom Hanks) of the Fake News Award-winning Washington Post as they prepare to publish the Pentagon Papers; classified documents exposing government lies about the Vietnam War.
Except it’s not about Vietnam at all, nor really about Richard Nixon. This is a film about what’s happening now regarding Donald Trump and his relationship with the media – if you can call shouting the same two words over and over again a relationship. In order to deliver this message while it’s fresh the picture was hurried into production by Steven Spielberg, who injects this sense of urgency into the film and sacrifices none of his usual detail.
Never a director bothered by the notion of subtlety, Spielberg is heavy-handed when it comes to these Trump parallels and everything else – from monologues that put the Spiel in Spielberg to a score that puts the John Williams in everything. But after the somewhat leaden historical pictures Spielberg’s made recently, this is the most dynamic he’s felt in years. The pace never lets up, and the newsroom and printing presses have seldom seemed so exciting.
Because it’s not about a search for truth so much as making one big decision, it lacks the investigative qualities of Spotlight and All The President’s Men. Instead it has a welcome (if overblown) feminist angle spearheaded by Streep’s Kay Graham, one of the first major businesswomen in America. She and Hanks spark off each other like the old pros they are, while Bob Odenkirk and David Cross make for a nice Mr. Show reunion.
In a month when the White House has tried to stop the publication of Michael Wolff’s book, The Post overcomes its flaws to capture the importance and responsibilities of proper journalism in the face of adversarial political leaders. Sorry Donald – it may have been co-produced by Fox, but clearly not by friends.